More than 375 marketers, project managers, creatives, IT professionals, and executives descended on the Hilton San Francisco Union Square for Collaborate, Wrike’s first-ever user conference on October 1.

Throughout the day, attendees learned new techniques and skills, networked with peers and colleagues, and received exclusive insights into industry trends. Here are highlights from Day 1:

Opening Remarks

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Wrike CEO Andrew Filev kicked things off with a warm welcome and outlined the major shifts in the modern workplace that led him to build Wrike. He recalled his struggles in the early 2000s to find a tool that could perform the functions he needed to manage teams and run businesses effectively. His friends and colleagues shared similar challenges at the time.

“It was clear we couldn’t unlock a new chapter in the economy by mimicking the last chapter. We needed to have a platform that would accommodate the fast, collaborative, and distributed nature of digital work,” he said. “The beautiful thing about Wrike is that anyone can use it, and in the next couple of days, you’ll have the opportunity to network, share ideas, and learn from other attendees about their teams, challenges, and solutions.”

Digital Transformation and the Age of Disruption

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Filev then invited Claire Haidar, CEO and Founder of WNDYR, to the stage to host a thought-provoking discussion about digital transformation in today’s workplace. Harnessing the power of digital technologies has never been more critical for organizations to discover new revenue opportunities, distance themselves from the competition, and streamline operations. Companies embracing this digital transformation are disrupting their categories and dramatically changing the competitive landscape every day.

The panel included:

Some highlights from the discussion:

"We're thinking always about where people add the most value, how do we let people shine, and how are we internally making the best use of the talents we have to deliver the best experience for our clients....It's impossible without automation," said Boyer.

“What I love about Wrike is you don’t have to talk about status. There’s so many emails that can fly around. I need for my teams to be having strategic conversations, and we can’t if we’re having conversations about status,” she said. “And to have all of that in one view and be able to communicate not the traditional way is a huge time saver.”

Kim spoke about his field of creative operations. “Part of it is to let creative teams be creative and not think about process. And a lot of what Wrike is doing is letting creative teams be creative,” he said. “Wrike is ahead of the game compared to other project management software because it tells you not only where a project is, but where it was. You get that context.”

Batelli talked about the importance of a company-wide work management platform.

“I see Wrike as more than just a process-focused tool. I see it as an enterprise solution everyone is using across the organization to engage and communicate across a single platform,” she said. “Having the data really helps them connect the dots and gives them visibility those departments aren’t getting. People get scared by change and data, but in this environment, you have to be looking at the data and analytics.”

The Pursuit of Operational Excellence

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Up next, Barrett Foster, Chief Revenue Officer at Wrike, led a panel discussion about operational excellence in the digital era.

In 2017, the Harvard Business Review argued that the ability to execute business strategy reliably and consistently in the digital era is just as important as having a superior corporate strategy or stellar executive leadership. Organizations focused on operational excellence should theoretically reduce operational risk and operating costs, while increasing revenues compared to their competitors.

The panel featured three of our 2018 Wrike Manager-X award winners:

  • Denise Teti, Director of Marketing and Sales Promotion at Speedo USA
  • Ashleigh Shapiro, Associate Director of Account Service at Metric Theory
  • Don Harris, Head of Support at Pluralsight

They discussed how they achieve operational excellence, including how they cultivate employee talent.

"Great talent is optimized through really great tools,” said Teti. “The simplest form of automation that has changed my life is templatizing the workflows in Wrike.”

“As the industry continues to change, we have to change. We continually revisit our processes to make sure we’re one step ahead,” said Shapiro.

“Automation is about identifying where value is added and building systems around that,” added Harris.

They also shared how as managers, they strive to bring out the best in their employees.

“Grooming talent is really about driving diversity,” Harris said. “Rather than having employees focus on their comfort zone, it should be about employees seeking different perspective. It's really about developing a culture to foster that perspective for each employee."

Shapiro shared: “My ultimate goal as soon as I start managing someone is to understand their good work versus their great work, and how can I maximize their great work. Not only are they happier so I retain them, but they do better work."

Teti underscored building strong employees who are empowered by a work management platform. “I’m not building a herd of sheep. I’m building a wolf pack," she said.

The Future of Work

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To conclude our general session, Wrike CMO Frazier Miller led a discussion on the future of work, focusing on how collaboration and automation are transforming how work gets done.

Featured panelists included:

  • Bill Macaitis, Startup Advisor and Board Member at Macaitis Advisory
  • Oded Gal, Head of Product Management at Zoom
  • Marc Boscher, CEO at Unito

The top three ways they see work changing in the next five years:

1) The need for collaborative work management platforms to improve communication and information sharing across an organization.

"Effective communication leads to better understanding, and that leads to better productivity," said Gal. “I think a major way to help manage work stress will be AI. Notifications will be more intelligent and sense the status of the user or group and not create notifications that cause more stress."

Macaitis added, “One aspect of agility and knowledge transfer is working out in the open. We’re so used to working with a wall around it and there’s a major trend around the opposite.”

Boscher underscored how a collaborative work management platform can help managers focus more attention on being leaders. “There’s a difference between management and leadership. A lot of us are stuck in management, keeping all that overhead in line,” he said. “The communication about work isn’t valuable. Once we can lower that overhead, we can have more time to lead and inspire our team.”

2) A trend of distributed teams working remotely instead of in a traditional face-to-face workplace.

"The world is going distributed. Even if you want everyone at headquarters, you're going to get to a point where you have multiple headquarters,” said Macaitis. “You need to have the tools and technologies that unite and bring people together. Where you’re a remote worker or part of a remote office, it's so easy to get disconnected, and all of these tools have the opportunity to bring us together.”

3) People are working across more and more tools, which require a way to connect them.

“I think letting people live in the tool they spend the most time in and not pulling them out is key,” said Boscher. “We switch apps 10 times per hour on average at work. That’s a lot of wasted time.”

Breakouts and Beyond

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After attendees enjoyed a delicious lunch, they split up into breakout sessions for three tracks: Wrike for marketing and creatives, Wrike for project managers, and a deep dive into general Wrike tips and techniques. Some highlights from the jam-packed agenda:

Marketing and Creatives Track

Managing Projects From Start to Finish
Representatives from Airbnb, Umpqua Bank, and Quantcast discussed how to optimize the intake process and manage marketing requests end-to-end.

How OSF HealthCare Morphed Into a Centralized Marketing Super Team
OSF HealthCare explained how adopting Wrike helped their marketing team transform from a siloed, decentralized organization to an award-winning and nationally recognized group.

Strategies for Integrated Campaigns
Wrike power users from Stitch Fix and Dynamic Signal explained how they aligned their marketing subteams to collaborate more closely and build successful integrated campaigns.

Automation Strategies for Optimized Workflows
Airbnb shared their best practices for eliminating repetitive administrative tasks with automation.

Project Managers Track

Guiding Seven Common Personality Types Through Change
Wrike team members examined change-management techniques to consider when making the move to Wrike.

Increasing Productive Collaboration With Microsoft and Wrike
Session highlights included a deep dive into the Wrike integration for Microsoft Teams, including key workflows.

Managing Projects at Scale
Bigger projects come with bigger challenges, but we demonstrated how Wrike can help avoid miscommunication and mass confusion.

Using Wrike Dashboards and Reports to Improve Performance
Wrike experts discussed creating dashboards and reports to measure progress, forecast resources, address bottlenecks, and prove your value.

Wrike Tips Track

A Primer on Wrike Fundamentals
This session featured a live demo of Wrike with a deep dive into the workspace from our Wrike expert.

An Inside Look at Wrike APIs
Representatives from Workato and Wrike took the stage to share use cases and best practices for using APIs with Wrike.

Balancing Transparency and Privacy
We discussed the many benefits of transparency, and how Wrike helps navigate the fine line between visibility and security.

Harnessing Wrike’s Multiple Views and Workspaces for Powerful Flexibility
Wrike’s multiple views allow teams large and small to work the way they want to. We examined specific use cases for each view available in Wrike.

Other Happenings Around Collaborate

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  • Swag Bar: Attendees were given “Swag Bucks” to exchange for T-shirts, water bottles, mugs, and more.
  • Birds of a Feather Lunch: Attendees interested in a discussion with colleagues of similar backgrounds were encouraged to gather at lunch tables designated Marketing, Creative, Project Management, IT/Ops, Nonprofit, and New to Wrike.
  • #WrikeHero Photo Contest: Participants entered to win a $250 gift card by taking a Wrike Superhero selfie and posting it on social media.

  • Welcome Reception: Food and drinks were a-flowing at the welcome reception sponsored by Workato.

See highlights from Day 2 of this year’s Collaborate conference, and stay tuned to see what we have in store for next year!

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